As we scarf down hot dogs and watch the fireworks displays, a group of young entrepreneurs at ASU are hard at work developing a site dedicated to those who protect our freedom.
It's Facebook meets Pinterest for veterans. Alphastripe.com is a social media site where the brave men and women who have served our country can share photos, videos and memories.
"If this was around and available when I came back, I wouldn't have had as tough a time adapting to civilian life," said Marine Pete Chinnici. He served two tours in Iraq and faced yet another battle when he came home.
"I had to deal with PTSD and trying to find a job, which was extremely difficult because of the economy," Chinnici said. "I ended up being homeless at that time. I was going through a divorce with my ex-wife."
With some seed money, Chinnici and some friends started up a multimedia company, which ultimately led to alphastripe.com. It's a website connecting veterans of all ages all over the world.
"Allow them to meet up with other veterans, talk to them, understand how they can pick themselves up without going all the way to the bottom," Chinnici said.
The site is still in its beta, or test, phase, and this July 4 they're rolling out a set of new features.
"You can post anything like photos, you can post journals where you can write and share your feelings," Chinnici said.
"Some people don't want to talk about it, some people feel better when they're around their peers," said veteran counselor and former Marine Courtney McFarland. She added while going to clinics and support groups helps, many soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan turn to websites like alphastripe.com to maintain connections.
"Social media is great because you do get to keep in touch with your friends and the people you've gone through your experiences with," McFarland said.
Chinnici and the rest of the site's co-founders hope alphastripe.com will become not only a place for people to share stories, but also a kind of time capsule for future generations.
"We need to save these stories for history's sake," Chinnici said.
Of course, eventually they hope to capitalize off this idea by adding premium memberships and even a marketplace. The site goes live in September.
Copyright 2012 CBS5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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